Build A Solar System Model
Kids Science Projects
Build a solar system model plus a free printable Planets cut out in this wonderful kids science project showing how amazing our Planet is.
STOP PRESS: Lower down the page, see how to make a solar system model using just a roll of toilet paper!
This science project:
- Looks great
- Is fun
- Helps you learn loads
- Makes most of the kits you buy look rather pathetic!
And making a model solar system is fun for younger kids too!
If your child is like my daughter and not that interested in space, they can enjoy themselves too.
Just let them get
their fingers messy rolling modeling clay in sand,
stick strips of newspaper and splatter some red paint!
Here's my home school son William showing off how to build a solar system model:
PLUS Free Planets Printable
This is one of our TOP TEN favorite home school science
We made our model solar system when we were homeschooling our children William aged 7 and
Catherine 5, but you could do this with much older children working more
I want to make clear that this homeschooling project is taken almost entirely from DK: The Young Astronomer by Harry Ford.
There's nothing like kids science projects where you build a solar system model from scratch.
When you start homeschooling science,
one of the annoying things is the number of books with beautifully
illustrated science projects for kids which are largely impractical when
you actually get down to trying them.
They often don't look that good in the end anyway!
We also found all those model solar system kits you buy and build at home generally over-priced and not that great.
How To Build A Model Solar System
flour and water paste
red and yellow tissue paper
paints and brushes
thin dowel sticks – one for each Planet
play sand (optional)
optional base – they suggest cardboard; we used a wooden shelf
How To Build Your Sun
- Blow up a balloon so it's about the size of a football. This will be your Sun.
- Make up some of our easy paper mache paste. We use a patent home school recipe which works really well and is really easy to make. I've put the paper mache recipe instructions here.
- Paste strips of newspaper all over your balloon. Build up layers of newspaper until you've got a coat of paper mache.
- Allow to dry. Paint the surface yellow.
- Place your cotton wool strips
onto red and yellow crepe (or tissue) paper. Damp the paper with a
plant sprayer and watch the dye run off the paper and get absorbed by
the cotton wool. We loved this part!
- Allow to dry and then stick the orangey-yellow cotton wool
all over the Sun. It gives the Sun a fantastic amorphous appearance so
it no longer looks solid and you can almost imagine the solar flares.
- Flick specks of red paint onto the finished Sun to make Sun spots. Have fun!
You can see lots of ways to find out more about the Sun and the Solar system, in our page on space for kids which includes:
- ideas for all ages, including High School
- the best websites, including NASA's Space Place which answers questions like What is a Black Hole?
- space party food!
How To Build The Planets
To build a solar system model, you'll need to get some modeling clay and roll them round into balls of various sizes for the Planets.
I did most of the rolling, the children helped measure the diameters (fun math activities!).
These are the approximate sizes you'll need (I haven't forgotten Pluto at 2mm – but you might decide to ignore him!):
- Jupiter: 72mm
- Saturn: 60mm
- Uranus: 22mm
- Neptune: 22mm
Model Solar System Planets
- Use paint to color each of the planets. Look at some photos to get approximate colors. We rolled Jupiter and Saturn in sand to create more of a Planet effect.
- Make rings for the gas giants by measuring two circles on card, one inside the other. (See photo)
- Color and cut out the rings. Push some cocktail sticks through the Planets to support them, remembering to tilt the rings at an angle.
- Attach the Planets to dowel. When you build a solar system model the best way to show it off is to attach the dowel to a base (cardboard/old shelf). We left all this to my husband Rob!
Space Facts Calculator And Toilet Roll Solar System
Why not start by building a solar system model using just a roll of toilet paper?
All you need do is use this handy space facts calculator.
If you build your
solar system on a roll of toilet paper, you can make the Sun about .4
inches (10 mm) across and still fit the entire solar system on the roll.
A standard roll of toilet paper has about 450 sheets that are about
4.375 inches long, hence the roll is about 164 feet long.
(N.B. Check your toilet paper for length. Some are longer.)
Free Planets Printable Download
Get your free Planets printable here.
Home School Science
When you build a solar system model, you can organize
all the Planets in the correct sequence from the Sun - but they won't be the right distance from it.
it mind-blowing to think that if Mercury were 10cm away from the Sun,
Pluto would need to be 10m!
And there's lots more interesting space activities to try.
Home school science
projects for kids are a fabulous way of getting an idea of just how
amazing the Planet we live on really is.
Love this page? Help me spread the word by sharing...
"Just had a look through your monthly
newsletter focusing on math. Thanks so much for all the links and
ideas. It's brilliant!" ~ Diana
totally love all your posts and enjoy reading them....the kids
love the activities and enjoy them through and through." ~ Bianka
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